Cold Heart

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The Wedding

Qoya City Hall, One Week Later.

Hunter was stunned by her beautiful simple look as she entered the hallway. She was wearing a simple white silk bodycon dress which made her curves show perfectly, she let her hair down with a touch of white flower ornament on the side, her makeup was all soft but intriguing--sensual, maybe it’s because she wore white heels too.

It’s their wedding day, a fake wedding. He corrected himself, feeling annoyed for even failing to not be attracted to her.

“I’m sorry, I lost track of time and kinda lost on the way too, heh--” Claire nervously explained.

“You do realize that this is just for formality, right? There’s no need to spend money on the bridal shop or dressing up too nice for this,” Hunter said more aggressively than he expected, he was actually covering his attraction to her.

Claire slightly scoffed as she was glum inside, she didn’t get the time to go to the bridal and she did her own makeup. The dress was something old she never wore. How could she get the time? She was barely holding up facing everything, not to mention the breakup with Miles still gave her a hard time, even her eyes were still puffy a little because Miles didn’t take it well at all.

“Okay...I’m gonna take that as a compliment,” Claire slightly muttered, looking down. Somebody is handsomely grumpy, she thought.

“How can I forget that this is all just formality when you remind me almost every time…?” Claire replied.

“And FYI, I didn’t go to the bridal shop, but I did recall that I have to ‘make people believe’ that this marriage is real too--which is written in our agreement...So, since I’m not really late, shall we proceed, Mr. Grumpy?” Claire said emotionlessly.

Hunter clenched his jaws, staring deep into her eyes for a second. He couldn’t decide whether he was upset with her or even drawn to her more since she dared to answer him that way.

All that was crossing in Hunter’s mind was to punish her, show her who’s boss, but instead, he sighed and looked away before turning his back and led her inside.

In the room, Claire found the wedding judge, her assistant, and Hunter’s Lawyer who were already there, considering they intended to do their civil marriage there with a view of witnesses.

Claire hadn’t told anyone including her friends in the city about the marriage, not even telling them about her breakup with Miles, they’ll ask too many questions which she wasn’t ready to answer without revealing the truth.

“Is everyone here…?” Said the wedding judge behind the table.

Hunter confirmed the judge before asking him to proceed.

“So just the two of you and your witnesses?” The judge warmly smiled.

Claire slightly nodded, looking down, unable to look the judge in the eye, she hates lying.

“Yes… We like to keep everything private, including our love life,” Hunter said lightly.

“So, these two are your…?” The judge prolonged his tone.

“Friends.” Hunter and Claire answered at the same time, though Hunter’s reply was more subtle.

“Very well then… I actually like this kind of ceremony, so simple and efficient but not less romantic,” said the Judge. “Shall we proceed?”

“Of course, so what should we do…? Shall we sign the paper now?” Hunter asked bluntly, making the officiant laugh.

“Not quite a patient man, are you…? Ah, I do remember those old good times, being in love…” The judge chuckled. “Well, since it’s only us here, I suppose we can go straight to the wedding vow… Please come closer to me,”

Hunter and Claire took a step forward.

“Before saying your vow... I ask you to remember that love—which is rooted in faith, trust, and acceptance— will be the foundation of an abiding and deepening relationship. No other ties are more tender, no other vows more sacred than those you now assume..”

The judge’s words were gradually getting hazy in Claire’s ear.

How did she get there?

How would she go from there?

Claire stared at her feet with her empty eyes before glancing at the husband-to-be she barely knew.

Hunter was as steady as a rock, and his face was cold, emotionless. How could he not be affected by their situations? She was wondering.

It will be only for a year, right? You can do this Claire… She soothed herself as she slightly rubbed down her simple broken-white bodycon silk dress. She took a deep breath before focusing her mind back on the judge who was still saying the vow opening.

After finishing his words, the judge said, “You can stand face to face and take each other’s hand,” there’s a hint of confusion in his look since Hunter and Claire were awkwardly stiff like a statue.

Claire quickly obeyed between her silent gasps, not to mention Hunter’s hands were already asking her to join hands.

As if standing close face to face under his eyes wasn’t enough to make her heart racing a hundred times faster, now she had to touch Hunter’s sturdy hand. Making her hands look smaller.

Hunter could feel the anxious vibes all over Claire’s look and her hands were as cold as ice. A part of him was conflicted by the instinct to release her from her torment, he didn’t know why. But he shouldn’t feel that way, he reminded himself.

“Please now read the vows you have written for each other...” Said the judge, making Claire’s eyes widened as they accidentally glanced to meet Hunter’s eyes. But Hunter didn’t seem shook, he looked at the judge calmly and softly chuckled.

“We didn’t prepare a vow,” he said shortly.

Surprisingly, the judge chortled when Claire thought he would question their seriousness in getting married. It was obvious that they didn’t see it coming. They thought it would be a simple process of signing papers since they didn’t really go through with the preparation.

“How about the ring then…? Did one of you prepare it…?” He asked in a teasing voice.

Hunter was nodding, grabbing his inside pocket.

“May I have the rings, please?” Said the judge, accepting the ring box from Hunter and opening it. “You can take the ring and put it on your bride’s finger,”

Claire was just watching carefully as Hunter took the ring for her. Would it fit her finger? She simply thought, considering that she didn’t participate in preparing the wedding ring. Well, she didn’t participate in any of the preparation.

“Please repeat after me,” the judge continued, before leading the words.

Hunter took Claire’s left hand higher. “I give you this ring, as a daily reminder of my love for you.” He said flatly as he slid the ring into her ring finger.

Great, the ring is a little bit too big. He spontaneously thought inside before realizing that he shouldn’t care.

Claire was thinking as she witnessed how steady Hunter was, that Hunter was either too great at hiding his feelings or he was just a cold-hearted guy. Because she, herself, had a hard time keeping everything together.

It was Claire’s turn to do the wedding exchanges, she was slowly taking the ring for Hunter from the judge’s hand, preparing herself to speak the wedding ring exchange words.

She gulped before speaking, unable to look at Hunter’s eyes or anyone else’s eyes for that matter. She used to be steady in her profession, but she’s just as human as anybody else who sometimes lost themselves. Like now, she thought.

Claire was licking her lips, feeling slightly nervous before saying, “I...give you this ring...as a daily reminder of my…..love, for you,” she said with her gentle voice as she put in the wedding ring to Hunter’s finger. Deep down she felt lucky that Hunter’s warm hands were actually calming her.

“By the power of your love and commitment, and the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife! You may kiss each other!”

The judge raised his voice in joy, making Claire slightly jolted between her fluttered eyes. The word ‘kiss’ started to echo in her head as she met Hunter’s emotionless eyes with her widened eyes.

Claire’s round eyes looked confused, trying to figure out what Hunter wanted her to do, but Hunter’s face was hard to read at the moment.

Claire was silently gasping when Hunter pulled her waist and just kissed her lips without giving her any sign, she didn’t have any choice except to play the part. She was closing her eyes and gently submitting.

She thought Hunter’s kiss would be abrupt and frigid but she found it rather gentle, warm, and passionate, which made her head spinning and her heart-melting.

Oh, boy, should I feel this way? It was very strange for her to feel all the feelings for Miles were swiftly gone every time she near Hunter. Claire was lost in her own emotions when Hunter suddenly broke the kiss and let her go.

Hunter was clenching his jaw after he let go of his wife before signing the paper that the judge asked them to sign.

It’s just a kiss. Hunter hoped that Claire would think that way too. But, why did he want to do it again? He couldn’t deny how he enjoyed her soft lips which had been tempting him from the first time he met her, her scents, her submission, and gentleness. Making him want something more. Making him want her.

Shit! Never again. Hunter was swearing inside to not let himself get carried away by her, ever again.

***

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